I grew up pasty and chubby in the land of scantily clad beach bods known as Miami. While my friends were hopping around in a two-piece bathing suit, my mom (always looking out!) was chasing me around with an oversized t-shirt and sunscreen trying to prevent an adulthood of skin issues stemming from the sun’s violent rays down here. Back then, I never really thought about it. I still would slip-and-slide like the best of them and that’s all that mattered!
Somewhere along the lines of the mandatory, awkward phase of middle school, I slowly held on to the “cover up” as tightly as a security blanket. It wasn’t until I was about 17 or 18 that I realized how much of an issue it had become. I remember going to Puerto Rico to visit my family and trying on a more revealing type beach outfit at their urging and feeling absolutely horrified—disgusted even. I distinctly remember my aunt saying, “Girl, that’s because you come from the STATES! People don’t care about that here!” It was a revolutionary statement. I don’t exactly remember when or why I started feeling ashamed of the way I looked, but I did in that moment and I vowed that I would never allow to let myself feel that way again.
I can go on and on about the culture we have created in our society and what the definition of beauty is, but I can also go on about how important it is defeat those ideas by empowering one another and teaching acceptance at an early age. Recently, I heard “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor and barely paid attention to the words because I was so busy dancing in the driver’s seat of my car while parked in a lot. I rushed to watch the music video and was horrified by some of the commentary beneath it:
- “Well it appears to be this singer is skinny-shaming.”
- “A male music executive decided a use this clinically obese woman to propagate the message to other clinically obese woman, that being clinically obese is not only acceptable, but that also maintaining ignorance under the guise of pseudo-female empowerment is to be encouraged.”
- “So this song is basically telling u it’s ok to be fat? NO!!!! Loose sum damn weight, it’s disgusting, I don’t need to see no cellulite while u were those mini skirts and tights DISGUSTING!!!!”
While I agree that as responsible health communicators we walk a fine line in communicating health and disease prevention, how often do we add to the messaging of positive body image and avoid disease shaming? How did people allow themselves to get so worked up over a song, and why is it a big deal anyway? I happen to still be carrying around a few extra pounds (turns out its pretty unavoidable for my body type) and am one of the most conscious eaters around. I also exercise regularly and am not completely out of shape for someone who sits behind a computer for 75 percent of the day. For good measure, my doctor beams with pride when he reads back my test results.
The commentary on this from all sides could be endless, but in case you still haven’t decided what side of the fence you sit on, I’m sharing some of my favorite “body positive” Instagram follows. I know the males are underrepresented in this post, but all of these sentiments exist for them, too. Share your own favorites below!
Healthy Is The New Skinny
Katie is a Jill-of-all trades! She’s in the modeling biz, is a body image expert and soon-to-be-author.
Plus Size Princess
CeCe is blogger extraordinaire. I first read of her dating woes on Refinery 29 and they hit close to home. Ever since, I have been following her on Instagram and have been hooked. She’s as real as real can get. Check out #pspfit for work out inspiration.
Swimsuits for All
This swimsuit company does a really good job of making a girl feel good. Forget the granny-styles you are used to seeing, they have something from sexy to sleek for you guessed it, everyone!.
I recently took one of Janet Jones’ classes (now offered in multiple cities) and was hooked! There were participants of every shape and size and everyone was working it—no judgement. (A few Beyonce-style hair flips will do that to you.) I was sore for two days!
I think I discovered Virgie on my last trip to San Francisco and now I kind of Instagram-stalk her. I might have been skimming a hashtag and there she was, unapologetically representing a group of happy, proud people. I’m sure if we met, she would be one of my coolest friends—unapologetically, of course!
Natural Models LA
“We represent top tier healthy models, and develop new models into top level girls.” Enough said.
Suits My Soul
They’ve partnered with Healthy Is the New Skinny to find swimsuits for everyone!
My Name is Jessa Myn
One word: RESPECT. This girl is amazing, just look at her. Kicking down all stereotype doors.
This girl is a style and body positive veteran. She’s also an amazing model, too.
OK, so they are a lifestyle blog and everyone loves to read their stuff. For me, they have gone beyond and made body positive a norm. They relate to everyone and are my absolute guilty-pleasure reading at work.